Frequently Asked Questions

Will my medical treatment suffer if I say “yes” to donation? Absolutely not. This misconception has been portrayed on television drama shows, where many writers don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. The reality is that every effort will be made to save someone’s life, regardless of their choice to donate. The medical staff dedicated to saving lives at hospitals is a completely separate team of people than those who coordinate donation. It is only after all life-saving efforts have failed that donation becomes an option.
What is brain death? Brain death occurs after an irreversible, catastrophic brain injury causes all brain activity to permanently stop. Despite all life-saving efforts, that injury makes the brain swell and obstruct its own blood supply. Without blood flow, all brain tissue dies rapidly. It is possible for someone’s heart and lungs to continue to function for a few hours or days with mechanical support, but that function would end when the machine is discontinued.
Can I still have a viewing if I donate? Yes. The organ recovery surgery is a very careful, respectful procedure, and if an open-casket funeral was possible before donation, it should be possible afterward.
What can be donated? Organs that can be donated after death include heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, kidneys and small intestine. Tissues that can be donated after death include bone, corneas, heart valves, skin and veins. Living donors can give a kidney, partial liver, partial lung and partial pancreas.
Is my religion against donation? Probably not. All major religions in the United States either encourage donation, viewing it as a charitable act, or leave the decision up to the individual.
Can rich or famous people buy their way to the top of the waiting list? Absolutely not. Publicity is often generated when a celebrity receives a transplant, but they do not receive preferential treatment. The national transplant waiting list exists because everyone has to wait on it, regardless of wealth or celebrity status. The only way to move to the top of the waiting list is to be extremely sick.
Can I sell my organs? No. The National Organ Transplant Act makes buying and selling organs illegal in the United States. If someone tries to do so, they will face fines and imprisonment.
Will there be a cost to my family if I donate? No. All costs associated with donation are billed to the local organ procurement organization.
Am I too old or too sick to donate? Not necessarily. The oldest donor was 92, and people with histories of diabetes, cancer and other diseases have still been able to give the gift of life. It is important to say “yes” to donation regardless of age or health conditions, as medical professionals will determine whether someone’s organs and tissues are healthy enough to transplant after death.
What is the matching process? The donor and recipient must be medically compatible, so blood type, body size and age are taken into account. Urgency of need, length of time on the waiting list and geographic location are also factors, but race, gender and wealth are not.
How do I register as a donor? There are three ways someone can say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation.
  1. Register online.
  2. Fill out and mail in an Ohio Donor Registry enrollment form.
  3. Say “yes” when asked the question at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when you receive or renew your driver license or state identification card.
Will my donation decision be honored? When someone joins the Ohio Donor Registry, that decision is legally binding for people 18 years and older. If a child under the age of 18 passes away and has the potential for donation, the decision to donate is up to the parents or legal guardians. Regardless of someone’s donation decision, it is important to have a family discussion so wishes are known.
Become a donor

Say "yes."